Germany’s T-Mobile said on Sunday it was in talks with partner Virgin Mobile which could result in it selling its 50 percent stake in the mobile phone company back to Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. “We are in discussions with Virgin to improve the terms and conditions of our wholesale agreement. The talks could involve any sort of an agreement,” a spokeswoman for T-Mobile, Europe’s second largest mobile operator, told Reuters.
“THE COMPANIES WANT to wrap this deal up as soon as possible because it’s in the best interests of both.”
A spokeswoman for Virgin Mobile, Britain’s fifth-largest mobile phone company, said discussions between the two companies were ongoing.
“All options are on the table but I cannot comment on the likelihood of a sale at the moment.”
The exact value of Virgin Mobile is unclear. It has targeted 600 million pounds ($1 billion) in turnover for 2004.
Virgin Group, Branson’s mobiles-to-Megastores conglomerate, already owns the other 50 percent of the mobile company.
A deal over the terms of the wholesale agreement between the two companies would signal the end of long-standing hostilities which have led to courtroom battles over fees.
Relations between the two groups have improved since Brian McBride took over as managing director of T-Mobile UK in July.
Despite the thaw in hostilities, the two companies will face each other in Britain’s High Court on Monday in a case outstanding from an earlier row over fees T-Mobile pays to Virgin Mobile.
T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom, carries the Virgin Mobile service on its UK network.
Last week, Virgin Mobile said third-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization fell to 24.8 million pounds from 25.6 million despite a 10 million pound rise in quarterly turnover to 112.6 million.
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